Wilby Ltd's Mark Dalton highlights asbestos dangers
Feb 9 2010 by Henryk Zientek, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
YOU have probably heard the advertisements on local radio and television recently relating the numbers of plumbers, electricians, builders and joiners who are dying from asbestos related diseases as a result of exposure to asbestos while in their work.
Current figures suggest about 4,000 people are dying each year from exposure to asbestos. The message is clear: asbestos kills and exposure must be prevented. Unfortunately, many companies appear to still be ignoring the danger and exposing their employees – and even the public – to asbestos.
In early January, the Health and Safety Executive announced it had initiated proceedings against a major high street retailer and four of its contractors for asbestos-related breaches during refurbishment work at stores in the south of England. It is alleged that the companies failed to ensure that staff and members of the public were not exposed to risks from asbestos.
The retailer and two of the contractors were alleged to have contravened section 2(1) and section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Section 2(1) relates to the health, safety and welfare of employees, while Section 3(1) relates to non-employees – in this case customers.
The other two contractors were alleged to have contravened the Control of Asbestos Regulations relating to the requirement to prevent employees being exposed to asbestos and to prevent and control the spread of asbestos in any place where work is carried out.
As well as ensuring people are not exposed to asbestos, the above examples also show care must be taken when selecting contractors. If the contractors are not working with due care and cause the release of asbestos fibres, the host company can also be held liable.
Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, the “duty holder” must:
l Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in
l Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not
l Make and keep up-to-date a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials - or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos
l Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified
l Prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed
l Take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
l Periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date
l Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.
The “duty holder” is the person or organisation responsible for direct maintenance of non-domestic premises, ie the owner or managing director of a company.